Medieval Weapons for Beginners

Selecting the Right Weapon for the Job

Weapons Glossary
Weapon Analysis
Selecting the Right Weapon for the Job

As one can see, there is a great variety in the weapons from which one can select for use. How does one decide how to dispatch one's enemies? Is cutting, crashing or stabbing more effective? Should it be done at long range or up close? How many weapons should one carry into any given battle?

To help you decide which weapons are right for the situation, consider the following questions:

What is my role as a fighter? Just as with selecting armor, you must consider the role you play (or intend to play) in a given battle. If you tend to do a lot of scouting and dashing ahead to cut off enemy movements, then perhaps a dagger and bow will suffice. If you intend to stand in the armored front line, perhaps a weapon and shield would serve you better. If you would rather stay in the second rank, a staff weapon may suit you best. As a rule of thumb, you should probably always carry a dagger. There was a reason that medieval people nearly always had one close by; it is an excellent last-resort weapon.

How concerned am I with authenticity? If this is a big issue for you, then you will want to think hard about the region and time period upon which you focus, and decide accordingly. However, while authenticity is important, it needn't be the end-all be-all of your decision-making process. Few people will look askance at you if you do some modest mixing and matching.

What kind of training do I have time for? Swords are more difficult to effectively use in combat than spears. It's a fact. This was why the majority of poorly or hastily trained peasant levies throughout the medieval era were given spears; they can be used effectively even with little training. This is not to say that all beginners should feel locked into using only spears. Try new things and have fun. Just remember that certain types of weapon take more practice to become proficient with than others and take that into account.

What is my opponent using? Where will we be fighting? If your opponent is particularly good with a sword, perhaps you should try to outreach him with a spear. If your opponent is using a spear, perhaps you can get past her zone of offense with a shield and sword. Consider the circumstances under which you will be fighting. If you are surrounded by dense forest, perhaps a greatsword is not the most advisable choice. And always carry a dagger.

While these questions will not automatically provide definite answers every time, they are a good place to begin when considering which weapon is right for the job.

Special thanks to Veronica Mae-Soar of the Craft Guild of Traditional Bowyers & Fletchers for input concerning archery information.




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